Early in 2018 Eurostar launched their long awaited direct service to Amsterdam, initially with two trains per day in the Amsterdam direction only. Return direct trains won’t begin until a check-in and customs facility can be built at Amsterdam Centraal, so until then a Thalys train to Brussels and a change of trains there is required.
A trip to Utrecht in June 2018 seemed like an ideal time to try this new direct service, so I bought a ticket for the 8.31am departure from London St. Pancras, arriving at Amsterdam at 1.12pm – with an hour added on for the time zone change, a journey of 3 hours 41 minutes.
Standard class tickets start at £35 which seems great value, with Standard Premier priced at £89. Usually I wouldn’t recommend an upgrade at more than twice the cost, but as making this journey was a first for me I decided to treat myself.
You can read more about the Eurostar experience to Brussels here, and check-in was as painless as ever. Standard Premier ticket holders don’t get priority check-in, indeed the only benefits are on-board – a wider seat with more legroom and a complimentary light meal and snacks.
As it was a morning train my light meal was breakfast – croissant, roll, jam, yoghurt and orange juice, with tea and coffee if required (not by me, I’m one of those strange people who doesn’t drink hot drinks).
For no apparent reason the train was delayed somewhere in Kent so we exited the French side of the Channel Tunnel around 20 minutes late. Unlike all London-Brussels trains, this one passed through Lille non-stop and after a stop of about 10 minutes at Brussels Midi, we continued towards Amsterdam. The train follows the same route as the Thalys to Amsterdam, but omits the stops at Antwerp and Schiphol Airport, calling only at Rotterdam Centraal.
The stewardess brought me some very welcome beer and nuts as we crossed an impressively wide river south of Rotterdam, before stepping off the train into the bright Amsterdam sunshine at 1.30pm local time.
3 hours 40 minutes from city to centre isn’t far off the time it would take to fly, when you factor in getting to and from the airports and the increased check-in times and security (and you don’t have the luggage restrictions either). Even without the benefits of Standard Premier it’s still a much more civilised and comfortable way to get to Amsterdam, and while the tickets are still £35 it’s a bargain.